Photos: The Confederate Flags of Ames Bike Night

The South will rise again on Main Street

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Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Last year, the Main Street Cultural District and its new director, Cindy Hicks, decided to start ramping up entertainment options in downtown Ames. One of its new marquee events, the organization announced, would be the Harley Bike Night. The spectacle went off with a bang last summer, and this year the MSCD scheduled it for the fourth Friday of every month from May to September, with the help of $1,100 from the city of Ames (PDF). (The event was cancelled in May due to stormy weather on the forecast.)

Yesterday, the bikers returned, along with a truck full of memorabilia smack dab in the center of the 200 block of Main Street with a Confederate flag flying on its roof — a racist throwback to the slave-owning South that Ames’ congressman Steve King would have viewed with pride.

Some of the bikers sported rebel flags of their own at the family-friendly event, which was also sponsored by Zylstra Harley Davidson, Fenders Honda, the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Main Street bro-bar Whiskey River.

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Don’t fuck with the Hitman.

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Cool Biker Stuff, a MSCD-sponsored Confederate flag shop in the middle of Main Street.

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Save a virgin, do a rebel biker instead.

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Are you ready for the next rebel yell?

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

“Sticks & stones may break my bones but whips & chains excite me,” words under the Confederate flag patch read.

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Whether you’re a fan of cultural appropriation or the Confederate flag, you’ve got plenty of options to sport on your finger at the Bike Night ring shop.

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Alternatively, you could wear a rebel flag bra.

Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer
Gavin Aronsen/Iowa Informer

Keeping safe with a little help from the Confederacy. (Update: See the comment below.)

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.
  • Causal

    I actually know the fellow with helmet, in the last picture. When I saw this article, I immediately called him and said, “Dude–why do you have a Confederate Flag helmet??” He said, “What are you talking about? It’s an Evel Knievel helmet.” (Like this one: http://www.retroland.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Evel-Knievel2.jpg.) I said, “No, dude. If you were an African American, who didn’t know anything about Evel Knievel, what would you see when you look at that helmet?” His response was, “Oh, my god. I need to go get a new helmet.”

    TL;DR: his white privilege kept him from realizing that he was offending people, and now he’s getting a new helmet.

  • Ron

    First of all just like any reporter you have it wrong. Its not a Harley bike night its a bike night. I saw many different types of motorcycles there. If your upset by what others have on the cuts or are selling at stands maybe you should just stay home cause you won’t fit in with us & we don’t want or need you there either. Don’t worry Ames bike night won’t last long anyway as Ames has no idea how to have fun… Put up a fence & it will end bike night… Need an ID just to get into where the band is playing… To many up tight asses like you involved it will not survive…

  • Mike Stevens

    Getting a bunch of people together and have a good time, and maybe meeting new friends. And you have to lower yourself to find a negative where there isn’t one. If your offended maybe, just maybe keep yourself at home in your “safe spot”. You PC people need to shut the heck up or stay home.

  • Brenda J Freeman

    Thanks for pointing out it was not a Harley Bike Night. It was great fun, I have issue with the confederate flag myself but I am so happy to live in a country that allows freedom of expression, so let that flag fly!! I know a lot of work went into this event and a lot of people came to Ames and spent some money here. Great job Cindy Hicks, Main Street Cultural District, Fenders Honda of Ames and Zylstra Harley – your hard work produced a great night of fun.

  • IowaInformer

    Our reporting is accurate. The director of the Main Street Cultural District referred to the event as Harley Bike Night in an interview with the Ames Tribune before it was first held last year. The event’s official title is mentioned in the headline.

  • Ron
  • Jaryd Dutton

    The event’s Facebook page makes no mention of Harley, and any shred of wisdom includes accepting that other people have differing views than yourself. This is hatemongering moreso than reporting.

  • impishacid

    Shove your polite pandering euphemisms, they’re overt neo-nazis. Even that small image of the ‘ring shop’ also features totenkopfs, the iron cross, and thor’s hammer. And in the first image, there appears to be a Hammerskins patch on the shoulder of that vest.

    Follow your leader, fascists.

    And Ames needs to get a fucking black bloc together…

  • John Petersen

    Wow, they actually have a patch that says “Kicking ass, taking names.” That’s so sad. I’m sure some insurance executive is gonna think he looks completely badass with that on his weekend biker vest as he wheels his Harley out of his 3-car garage in Northridge.

  • Chris Jones

    For real. Stop being so hypersensitive or stay home. I bet bet your a Hillary type of fellaaaaa as well.

  • Tony Castelline

    What a complete tool. That “Hammerskin” patch of which you speak is actually Hull Tech Petty Officer 3rd class for the United States Navy. Get a “black” bloc together? Hmmm….who is the racist? Maybe you should shove your impolite euphemisms and think just a little before you post this drivel.

  • Tony Castelline

    I went to this and it sucked anyway. Would not let my 53 year old wife into the music with no ID? get real. Yes this is my vest pictured in the first frame and I don’t really care that you don’t like it, just the same as you don’t care that Rainbow flags offend me, but wait that’s ok right? Such hypocrisy that the city wants “bikers” money both then and going forward yet then cry about a stupid flag. Yikes is this country in trouble. Just wait until Hitlery takes the reigns……

  • Tony Castelline

    white privilege? Really?

  • Jo Johnsonn

    Oh crap, there is a patch with a marijuana leaf on it. That is illegal and thus immoral… where is the outrage?

  • Char

    If people are offended by the products of a vendor, then I would recommend that they don’t buy anything. It’s crap that “rules” will be put into place for future events because the few are offended. Let the majority rule…it is America after all!!

  • Daniel

    Actually, the people rocking the Confederate Flag are the racists. It’s ok though, some of us support your Constitutional right to fly symbols of Racism and Sedition.

  • Daniel

    Yeah you politically correct a-holes are ruining our ability to fly symbols of Racism and Sedition. Lame.

  • Ron

    http://www.rulen.com/myths/ Check this out all you Confederate flag haters.

  • Patti Ehlers

    Oh my God. Really? Pick out a small mom and pop vendor just trying to make a living. And now this venue is talking about not letting them back in. Way to piss in their cheerios. Just a fact, this vendor was at the Freesom rally in Algona this past weekend. Should have came and did a follow up story. Im sure you would have been offended by all the biker mentality and support and love of our fellow brothers and sisters. Get a life and report about something that matters. Free speech to everyone. Not just you bud…

  • Daniel

    Yeah! Don’t worry! We got your back! You can fly and sell all the symbols of Racism and Sedition that you want.

  • Daniel

    Yeah man! You oughta read the Articles of Secession for the Confederate states where all of them state clearly that they are Seceding because they want to own people and the Union wants to end that practice. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

    I mean, the words “supremacy of the white race” actually occurs in 1 or 2 of them.

    The Confederate Flag was also adopted as the symbol of various racist groups.

    You may as well wear a Swastika and say “well it doesn’t mean anti-Semitism to me, bro.”

  • Daniel

    Yeah, the pot leaf was adopted by a group that wants to own people or lynch them. Great analogy!

  • Dave

    Look at all the keyboard warriors here kinda funny if you ask me